It seems like vampires are reinvented every couple of
years. They've been tragic characters,
sexy bad-boys, kind creature, and these days they 'sparkle' and really
want to take a cute girl to the prom.
You won't find that type of blood-sucker in the anime series Shiki.
In this show they get back to basics:
vampires are evil nocturnal undead monsters that suck the blood
living humans, can hypnotize them, and are killed by a steak through
or by exposure to sunlight or an old fashioned steak through the heart. It was great to see a show about classic
Western vampires and Shiki is a very
engaging show, if you can stay with it long enough for the plot to get
Megumi is a cute, perky high school student who dreams of
leaving her small village Sotoba and moving to the big city where she
her dream of being a model and/or pop star.
The locals don't understand why she likes to dress up just to
the store, and how important fashion and appearance can be.
The only person she really likes in Sotoba is Natsuno, her
classmate who just moved to the village from the big city.
He's cute and worldly, and he hates Sotoba
just as much as she does. The only
problem is that he has no interest in her what so ever.
But she'll be able to change that,
When Megumi hears that someone has finally moved into the
newly constructed mansion on top of a hill that overlooks her small
gets excited that some rich people with class will finally be around.
up to the house, fantasizing about how impressed they'll be with her
manner, and... disappears.
A search is launched and she's found days later in the
forest. She has anemia, and is very
tired, but aside from that she should recover fully.
She doesn't though, she dies
unexpectedly. The local doctor, Toshio
Ozaki, is perplexed. There have been a
lot of people dying lately, but mainly older people and the summer has
Natsuno isn't terribly affected by Megumi's death, but he
starts to see her in his dreams, and he thinks he glimpses her in the
outside his window. But when more and
more people start to die, all unexpectedly and without warning, the
realizes that maybe there's something unnatural happening in Sotoba. When he reluctantly hints at this fear to
Toshio, he's surprised that the doctor agrees that the epidemic he's
may be attributed to vampires.
This is a very good show, but it starts off very, very
slowly. Like this review, the first
several episodes play like 'shaggy dog' stories... focusing on a
to have them be written out or become regulated to a small supporting
role. It's hard to understand where the
show is going at first and it isn't until the fourth episode that
That's not to say that the early episodes are bad, it just
that they're very slow. Halfway through
the third installment I was asking myself what the point of it all was,
I was watching the program on broadcast TV I'm sure I'd have given up
it. And that would have been a mistake,
because the show does get better as it goes along and by the sixth
things are quite interesting. Things
just become more engaging from there.
The show is fairly intelligent too. It
doesn't treat viewers like idiots, which
is very welcome. Not only do they give
the audience credit for being able to sit through the first episodes so
can fully establish the town and what's happening there, but they have
approach the problem of the dying people in a logical and scientific
manner. He talks about the differences
between types of anemia and the significance of specific numbers from
tests he runs on his patients. Yes, he
explains what he means to someone in the room, but only the first time. He doesn't explain what he's talking about in
every episode the way most shows (Japanese anime and American live
series) do endlessly. The creators just
assume that viewers can remember an explanation from week to week.
The animation is very good, fluid and smooth, and the
character designs are generally fine too (there's an occasional oddly
person, like the owner of the liquor store who is the size of a small
with two exceptions: the hair and the
eyes. For some reason the creators
decided to give many of the characters bizarre hair styles, with people
like they have horns or, more often, their hair defying gravity and
their head. While it may have fit in a more stylized show, this was
from the more realistic, down-to-earth feel that the story was aiming
The other design flaw was the eyes of the vampires:
their eyes are totally black. Not
just the pupils, but the entire eye is jet
black, but no one seems to recognize this at all. Yeah,
I know it's a short-handed clue to
viewers saying "Yo! Wanted to let you
know that this dude is a vampire" (the same way a large drop of sweat
forehead signifies embarrassment) but it didn't work for me.
The first 12 episodes arrive in a combo pack with two DVDs
and a pair of Blu-ray discs (both of which contain the 12 episodes.) These are housed in a single quad-disc
Blu-ray case which comes in a nice sturdy slipcase that has room for
volume too. It's a nice package.
This set presents the show with the original Japanese Dolby
True HD 2.0 soundtrack or an English dub in Dolby True HD 5.1. While I really wish the Japanese track had a
Dolby True HD 5.1 option too, both tracks sound very good.
People who prefer dubs will be happy with
this one; the voices aren't artificially high for the women or filled
accents. The English actors did a good
job and brought their characters to life.
It's also more engulfing than the original language track. They throw some dialog to the rears
occasionally (when someone is walking out of a room or behind what's
shown on screen) and that's very effective.
The 1080p AVC 1.78:1 image looks great. I
really don't have any complaints. The
colors were vivid and strong (and they
used a wide palate too) and the blacks were nice and dark.
The level of detail was fine, what you'd
expect from an anime series that's only about 2 years old, and the
nice and tight.
There are two commentary tracks with the English voice
actors and the English director. These
are on episodes 1 and 12. I have to
admit I'm not a fan of commentary tracks on anime by the people
the English dub. Unlike director or
actor commentaries on movies or even those involved with the original
of the anime, I just haven't heard any that add to my understanding or
appreciation of the show. I spot checked
a few of these and they generally left me cold.
There's also a clean opening and closing, a series of
previews for the show, and some FUNimation trailers.
Shiki is a very good show, if you are willing to devote some
time to the first several episodes. It
starts off very slowly but as it goes along the story reveals itself
show keeps getting better and better. It
comes recommended for those otaku
who have decent attention spans.